COLUMBUS– Clinton County’s state lawmakers praised this week’s passage of Am. Sub. House Bill 64, the state’s two-year operating budget. The bill, which will move on to Gov. John Kasich for his signature, must be signed into law before July 1.

“This budget makes investments in young Ohioans by improving the state’s K-12 school funding formula to support rural school districts and lowering the the cost of higher education,” said State Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina). “Job creation and workforce development also continue to be a top priority that will help lift the standard of living for all Ohioans and their families.”

“I believe the budget proposal we have passed today is an example of an important collaborative effort between the House, the Senate and the governor, and it will work to benefit the overall quality of life for the people of Ohio,” said House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville). “Our goal of cutting taxes for hardworking Ohioans, ensuring funding for schools and supporting important initiatives that help various projects in the state has been achieved.”

Peterson said the conference committee report includes a number of provisions he supported, including:

• Investing in Wilmington Air Park: This proposal supports a collaborative research program in partnership with the University of Akron’s National Center of Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance for the development of an FAA certified process for state-of-the-art research on Supersonic Particle Deposition at the Wilmington Air Park.

That program would allow companies to replace corroded material on aircraft, according to Brady Templeton, president of Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services, which is working with UA on the program. A component would be repaired by applying a powder of the same material with high pressure.

Templeton said it would save parts from being thrown away. According to AMES Director of Business Operations Brad Heath, the proposal sets aside $4 million over two years and could result in great potential commercially and militarily.

“Corrosion is a huge problem across the entire industry,” Heath said. “It’s in the billions of dollars a year that’s spent replacing corroded parts just in the United States.”

Heath said single parts can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000.

• Construction project support for county fairgrounds: The budget provides $4.7 million to support eligible construction projects for county fairgrounds. The grant program will be administered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

• Support for farm families and communities: The budget restores funding for the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation which provides assistance to Ohio’s rural communities with economic and educational development opportunities.

The bill provides significant tax relief and support to Ohioans and small businesses with the purpose of keeping the state’s economy healthy and growing, Peterson said. The $1.85 billion net tax cut includes an across the board 6.3 percent income tax cut for all Ohioans. The bill also makes permanent the 75 percent tax cut on small businesses’ first $250,000 of net income and increases it to 100 percent in FY17 and establishes a three-percent flat tax on income above that.

The proposal, which will become law with the governor’s signature, also provides much needed sustainability and solvency to the state’s K-12 school funding formula, investing over $900 million over the next two years. Based largely on the current formula, this budget ensures that no school district loses funding and drives additional dollars to low-wealth, low-capacity districts while ensuring more districts are on the funding formula.

A hallmark of the bill is the Senate’s focus on making college affordable and accessible. A two-year tuition freeze will go into effect, and universities and colleges are required to reduce student costs by five percent. This budget also makes the largest state investment in SSI (state share of instruction) in higher education in eight years and creates and funds the Higher Education Innovation Fund to assist institutions with their cost reduction efforts.

Additional highlights include:

• Reducing infant mortality: Infuses funding and outcome-driven programs to areas with prevalent infant mortality problems.

• Women’s health funding and coverage: Restores funding for Medicaid coverage of pregnant women up to 200 percent of the poverty level and restores coverage for breast and cervical cancer screenings for women on Medicaid.

• Support for Developmental Disability: Fully funds DD initiatives outlined in the governor’s plan and provides funding for ABLE savings accounts for the developmentally disabled.

• Improved mental health care: Provisions included to integrate behavioral health care services into a managed care model.

• Increased police training: Includes additional GRF funding for a total of nearly $20M for police training and community police relations initiatives.

• Local township support: Adds $20 million in a local government support fund specifically targeted to township needs.

• Modernizing Ohio’s elections: Includes $12.8 million for a state-local partnership to provide county board of elections with new, digital electronic pollbook technology, making it even easier to vote in Ohio.

• Relief for Ohio’s waterways: Provides additional loan and tourism funding for Ohio’s distressed lakes.

• Additional student aid: Includes $100 million for need-based student aid through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant.

• Building state savings: Increases the maximum allowable rainy-day fund from five percent of general revenue funds (GRF) to 8.5 percent.

The offices of Sen. Bob Peterson and Rep. Cliff Rosenberger contributed to this report.